Tambour Crochet

I was lucky enough to have been shown how to do this by a designer that I met and was doing some work for. It was all quite by accident and I was certainly very very amazed at this technique. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of information on how to do this but we are going to learn it and you will have a lot of fun with it. My picture taking leaves a lot to the imagination but hopefully my written explanation will help you get started.

You will need a good embroidery hoop, one that you will be able to keep your fabric very very tight. To practice with, any color size 10 thread, and a size 9 hook, a piece of cotton or cotton blend fabric wide enough to fit into your hoop, make sure it is wide enough so that no open spaces are in the hoop. Pick a side of the hoop to be your right side, to me it does not matter which side, do whatever is comfortable for you. Make a slip stitch, with your right side facing you, insert your crochet hook into the fabric. Now from the wrong side place your slip stitch onto your hook. Pull the slip stitch up to the right side of the fabric, leaving the knot of the slip stitch on the wrong side. This is how you start when you are using thread only. You don’t want the knot or the yarn end to come to the top. This will be the side that you want people to see or look at. Until we get to the next step, enlarge the loop so that it would come undone. On to Part 2 Ok now let’s grab our Houdini hats, get that extra pair of hands out ,just kidding, but the next step will make you wish you were Houdini with an extra pair or two of hands. Place whichever hand you normally hold your yarn in, on the wrong side of the hoop, find your thread. You will use it to put the yarn over the INSERTED crochet hook, by the way we haven’t inserted our hook yet. Now from the right side and with your hand that you normally hold your hook in, insert your hook approximately 1/4 of an inch away from the first spot you inserted your hook to the wrong side. With your yarn hand (should be on the wrong side), guide the thread over the hook, pull it up to the right side. You now have 2 loops on your hook, do not yarn over, just pull that new loop through the first loop, basically a slip stitch. Taa Daa you did it. Now do it again. To finish off, slightly enlarge loop on hook, remove crochet hook, cut your thread leaving a long loop on the wrong side. Thread a sewing needle with the end, poke from the wrong side to the right side, through the last loop, pull snugly so that the last loop lays down, now make a tiny stitch (insert from right side to wrong side with threaded needle)the tacks down your last stitch. Now weave in the end on the back side.

What you are basically doing is the slip stitch on top of your fabric with your thread or yarn at the back side. You may want to take a pencil (lead pencil is fine) and draw some curves, lines, circles, squares, or anything for your to practice. Don’t worry if it seems a little odd at first. I usually have the hoop sitting upright (straight up and down) in my lap. Make sure to save a little room on your work because the next lesson we will be adding beads and sequins. Use any method to get beads or sequins onto a spool of upholstery thread. Make a slip knot on the end of your thread, with right side facing you, insert your hook into the fabric, pull the slip knot all the way through. You want the slip knot on the right side of the fabric. When you add sequins or beads the sides become switched (right side of work is now the wrong, and the wrong side will be the side that has the beads on it). Please keep this in mind if you plan on mixing plain thread tambour with bead/sequin tambour. For the purpose of learning we are going to add one bead at a time, when you use sequins you will ALWAYS add one sequin at a time. You can add up to 3 beads at a time. Now insert your hook approx 1/4 of an inch away from the slip knot, with your yarn hand push a bead all the way snugly to the fabric, yo pull thread only to right side of work , you now have two loops on hook, pull the new loop through the old loop, slip stitch made. Repeat by inserting your hook into the fabric, snug up the bead, complete slip stitch. Now practice, practice, practice. You can buy iron on transfers and use tambour with or without sequins and beads to fill it in. In order to keep all your hard work from unraveling, purchase light weight iron on facing. Cut to size the area of your work and iron, try not to press too hard so you don’t smash your stitches. If you don’t want to do that, use the liquid fray check; use it sparingly, on the back side of your stitches. It makes it a little stiff but seems to loosen a little after washing. I do tambour work on mostly cotton fabric but you can easily make your design on netting and then add it to your project. They do have a very informative book , the only one I know of , about Tambour work, and it is you guessed it Tambour Work by Yusai Fukuyama, a great addition to your crochet library.

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